Creation of Man

We’re now in STII, and we’ve started the doctrine of man.

Last time we intro’d the topic by talking about why this doctrine is important.

There are many implications for life and culture, both in the church (and outside the church).

It’s a topic that tends to generate a lot of emotional debate between Christians and non-Christians… (And now, even within the church [e.g., human sexuality]).

And so we tried to lay out why it’s not just a point of intellectual discussion, but one that has consequences. So we’ll try to draw those out as we go along.

And then we began, by talking about the various lexical terms that the OT and NT use for mankind.

Today we’re going to take a look at the creation of man.

The Creation of Man

A special creative act.

The definitive text : Genesis 1:26-27.

“Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

-- (asa) עָשָׂה used once in v. 26. This is the term for doing (or actively moving).

It’s a very important term, and one that has important implications for open theists.

It speaks to the fact that He is not passive, but active in his works and efforts. He takes the initiative, and so there’s an intimacy in what He does.

“When used of god, the word frequently emphasizes God’s acts in the sphere of history. These contexts stress one of the most basic concepts  of OT theology, i.e., that God is not only transcendent, but he is also immanent in history, effecting his sovereign purposes.” (TWOT).

-- (bara) בּרָא used 3 times in v. 27.

This also is very important term, because it reveals the fact that God is a creating God. In fact, it’s an essential property of His. So built into the reality of what it means to be God, is that He creates.

“The word is especially appropriate to the concept of creation by divine fiat.” (TWOT)

So when you combine this word with the previous one, one of the first things we learn about God is that He is an active Creator.

Gen. 2:7 - “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

--(yasar) יצַר“The basic meaning of this root is ‘to form/to fashion.’ While the word occurs in synonymous parallelism with bara “create” and asa “make”’ in a number of passages, its primary emphasis is on the shaping or forming of the object involved… When used in its secular sense it occurs most frequently speaks of a “potter,” ie.., one fashions (clay).” (TWOT).

So the term implies creation, but also speaks to “purpose.” There is an end product, or image, that the designer has in mind. So there’s an intentional forming (or shaping) of the object that’s being created-- and it’s being shaped to serve a specific purpose.

Eve’s supernatural origin.

The key passage is Gen. 2:18-25, and what we would say is that your approach to Genesis 1-11 will determine how you choose to understand this.

Without getting bogged down in hermeneutical approaches, we see it best to approach Gen. 1-11 as literal.

There’s no compelling argument to interpret it otherwise. Many scholarly attempts have been made to read it as poetic (or allegorically), but they fail to convince. They’re often technical readings, that require much hermeneutical gymnastics, and again, they do not convince us.

We are very familiar with the discussion and debate.

This is not the time for it. At some point we might deal with it more in depth, but for our purposes, just understand we take a more literal approach to interpretation.

The conclusion, then, is that you must see Eve’s creation as a supernatural act.

The key word in Gen. 2:18-25 is בָּנָה (bana).

“The basic meaning here is “to build” (or “God as Builder”). YHWH is presented in Scripture as the master builder of both the created and historical order. … The word is used to speak of God’s final creative act for man’s good when he ‘built” the rib which he had taken from Adam into a woman (v.22).” (TWOT)

Three times in v.23 the preposition “from” is used in the Hebrew to emphasize the origins of woman. The idea is that she came out from the midst of Adam. There is a real sense in which woman is intimately connected to man, and there appears to be an intimation of this in the sexual union where they are called ‘one flesh.’

In fact, Paul picks up on this in 1 Cor. 11:8.

“For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”

What’s important, here, is that Paul’s picking up on the role and purpose of woman, not from culture, but creation. When it comes to human flourishing, it’s a matter of man and woman functioning within their God given roles. They ought to be seeking to function in the capacity of their original design.

When people begin to understand this, they’ll start to sense a true meaning in their life. It’s when they seek to usurp that design, and function in a role (or purpose) for which they’ve not been created, things go bad.

When we ignore this, it is a lie we so often believe. But if we can remember the design, and therefore the appropriate roles we’ve each been given, not only will God’s blessing be sure, but at a basic, functional level, things will “work” better.

It’s never good (in the long-term) for individuals, families, and cultures, when they seek to ignore the original design of God.

Necessary conclusions related to man being created (we mean, here, both man and woman-- humanity). Because man was created, it means that he has no independent existence.

Man is part of the creation.

Man, however, has a unique place in creation.

There is brotherhood among men. Individual men and women belong to a class called ‘humanity.”

Man is not the highest object in the universe. God is.

There are definite limitations upon man.

Limitation is not inherently bad.

Proper adjustment in life can be achieved only on the basis of acceptance of one’s own finiteness.

Until we rightly understand what it means to be truly human, we will always go wrong in some capacity.

We can only know what it means to be truly human, up and against the backdrop of first understanding God.

Man is, nonetheless, something wonderful.

The unity of the race.

Gen. 3:20 makes it clear that the naming of Eve (“mother of all the living”) is done with the purpose of communicating that all who would follow have a common mother (i.e., origin).

We see this, as well, in Acts 17:26.

“and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation…”

The key prepositional phrase is ἐξ ἑνὸς (ex enos) “out from one.”

Again, this shows the common origin, and therefore, the unity of the entire human race.

The image of God (imago dei).

Vocabulary used:

Genesis. 1:26-27, 5:1, 9:6.


Paul picks up this language in 1 Cor. 11:17.

εἰκών (eikon).

Much ink and speculation has been spent on this concept.

Is it speaking of a physical concept? Relational? Emotional? Spiritual?

The truth is we don’t fully know.

The main point to understand is that man is unique (and like God) in such a way, that man bears some kind of mark (or likeness to God) that no other aspect of creation bears; not even the angelic realm.